Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bon Iver - Bon Iver (2011)

There's not much I can say about Bon Iver to people that already love them. But for the record: Bon Iver is a band, not a person (that because a lot of people mistake Justin Vernon with Bon Iver). These guys have been working a lot for the last years on separate projects or collaborating with other artists, like the song in the eclipse soundtrack with St. Vincent, the 2010 buzz worthy collaboration with Kanye West in not one but two songs, and also Justin’s electronic side project Vulcano Choir and S. Carey’s solo album; everything showing different faces of the Bon Iver talent.

Talking about Bon Iver self titled release will never be like talking about the previous releases just because the amount of fame and respect they’ve been getting since “For Emma, Forever Ago” make them a different caliber of artistry. That said, is normal that the buzz around this album overshadow everything that was good in “For Emma, Forever Ago” and over appreciate everything that good in “Bon Iver”.

For this album they play with every influence they’ve had in the past, it’s still Bon Iver being Bon Iver, but all the production tweaks inherited of Vulcano Choir adding a little electronic stuff and pumping up the variety in instrumentation. The opener “Perth” for example, it has the same song structure of old familiar Bon Iver songs starting slow, building up and then chilling down, the typical Bon Iver crescendo but this time around with a lot more of horns and instrumentation. And then you take the second song “Minnesota, WI” and do exactly the same but with electronic synths mixing with a banjo and some 80’s sounding sexy saxophone and electric guitars.

“Bon Iver” is bigger in terms of production and sound quality but in the same time some songs miss the intimacy that the acoustic simple songs tend to have in “For Emma, Forever Ago”. I can’t help to be a little bit on the fence in the case of taking the bigger Bon Iver as the better one, it is indeed a good album, I’d never say that is the best of the year (like Pitchfork pretends to be saying up to this point), but it is really a good album. I really loved how they included in every song a little bit of horns and sexy saxophones, this details make the LP more pop oriented and maybe that’s why it loses a little bit of intimacy.

None the less, I’m not resisting to the change and I’m sure it will grow on me, and even though is not the best album of the year it’s up there with the ones that stand out.


1. Perth
2. Minnesota, WI
3. Holocene
4. Towers
5. Michicant
6. Hinnom, TX
7. Wash.
8. Calgary
9. Lisbon, OH
10. Beth / Rest

Rate: 8.5/10

Junior Boys - It's All True (2011)

Canada strikes back! Jeremy Greenspan and Matt Didemus together form the highly underrated electronic duo Junior Boys and for 2011 they follow up the amazing “Begun Dull Care” with the also amazing “It’s All True”. But before I get into the review (and since is the first review I make of Junior Boys) I’ll take some time to talk about their previous work.

In the beginning, Junior Boys were constantly rejected for their experimental and lo-fi room-made songs from 1999 to 2004 when they released their first LP “Last Exit” (some EP’s before that), a poorly produced album that demonstrated the awesome creativity of the band and the ability to create quirky synths to go along with the sweet vocals; this first album was like the little train that could and became a moderate hit of that year in some indie circles. Time Passed and for the 2006 release “So This Is Goodbye” everything changed, the production was sounding brilliant, the synths were tight and from beginning to end the album was 80’s revival and swag, relaxing airy songs but with seriously dance vibes that never made it to the party scene but could be really enjoyable. However nothing really matters when it came to the 2009 release “Begone Dull Care”, this was the million dollar baby, amazing production, amazing musical progressions and patience, they take their time to reach perfection on each and every song. Despite the awesomeness of the band “Last Exit” still sounded more quirky than the others and that’s always a beautiful thing.

The amazing thing about “It’s All True” is that Junior Boys are not trying to move forward with each and every album, the natural progression between the first three albums was not necessarily incoherent between one and another, but with the good production quality the quirkiness got lost on the way until this year. The opener “Itchy Fingers” opens with an upbeat move and amazing 80’s revival synths to then jump to the airy “Playtime” that has airy keyboards and in the middle Asian instrumentation. I also love how the quirkiness is back in every song.
On other note, if there’s one thing Junior Boys have mastered through the years is that they have the capacity to take a really long and soft song and keep you interested until the end, is something that this year can be compared to Cass McCombs or Destroyer as well, and Junior Boys always take time to work each song.

Another win for Junior Boys is the ability to give cohesiveness to all their discography with this album, I won’t say that this album is better than “Begun Dull Care” but I see myself being seriously addicted to this album in a similar way that I did with the 2009 release, in part because I’m patient with my music and I love the way that Junior Boys take their time to deliver every song.

This album is a High-Class-Pop-Dance glory and a world cultural reference tribute to the 80's dance pop, so I'm sure you'll enjoy it.


1. Itchy Fingers
2. Playtime
3. You'll Improve Me
4. A Truly Happy Ending
5. The Reservoir
6. Second Chance
7. Kick the Can
8. ep
9. Banana Ripple

Rate: 8.7/10

Cults - Cults (2011)

Since the beginning of 2010 Cults has been consistently making a big buzz, from free giveaways to songs featured in HBO’s Weeds. But this indie fame doesn’t matter when it comes to the quality of the songs. Music tends to be in a way a revival of something else and Cults is no exception, they take all that was good from the 60’s and Phil Spector and take it again in the same level. Of course, this will always be a good thing, and if you like this kind of recordings you’ll like this record.

But now the downside, the few EP’s created such a buzz that made the wait for the album unbearable; if 4 songs together were amazing 11 were going to be pure bliss and in reality the album never gets to a point where any song is better than the EP’s, and the over exposure of the songs I already knew damaged the wow factor of the album, the best songs were already known and some of them since last year (already in my best of the year list).

This is not necessarily a bad thing; people will already know what to expect from this album, the moral of the story for the music lovers would be “don’t have any expectations”, because high hopes only work to be crushed down. The new songs “Walk in the Night”, “Never Heal Myself”, “Never Saw The Point”, “Bad Things”, “Bumper” and “Rave On” sound like Phil Spector covers and never really reach the level of the EP’s which is a shame because with the singles and the only song missing was “The Curse” of the 7” that was probably the worst song so that was a good judgment call. Overall the album is good to listen, short and sweet but contrary to what Pitchfork and probably the indie world thinks I don’t think this is one of the best albums of the year. For sure is a must listen and definitely popular, but the worth of the album is overshadowed for the fame of the songs everybody knew.

The 2011 singles are very good “Abducted” and “You Know What I Mean”; I really thought that the aggressiveness and heartache that these two songs had were going to set the tone for the new record but sadly no, the best songs were released separately from the album and some have a long time running around, is like the album is new and I’m already tired of it. Again, I like it and some of the songs I love, but as a whole, the album is just not making it for me as one of the “best of the year” is pretty standard good.

But you be the judge and listen to it, drop a comment, tell me that I’m crazy.


1. Abducted
2. Go Outside
3. You Know What I Mean
4. Most Wanted
5. Walk At Night
6. Never Heal Myself
7. Oh My God
8. Never Saw The Point
9. Bad Things
10. Bumper
11. Rave On

Rate: 7.3/10